Jahanara's last wish

After reigning for almost thiry years, Shah Jahan fell seriously ill. Each of his four sons laid claim to the throne. Their names were Dara Shikoh, Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad. The most ambitious was Aurangzeb and he quickly seized Agra. To everybody's suprise and Aurangzeb's great disappointment, however, Shah Jahan did not die. So in 1658 Aurangzeb incarcerated his father in the Red Fort.

Shah Jahan's only daughter was Jahanara. Jahanara was extremely beautiful, extremely soulful and extremely self-giving. When her father was imprisoned, she decided to remain with him in prison to serve him and console him. She stayed with her father until his death, eight years later. In every way, she tried to keep him happy and well.

Long before he was imprisoned, Shah Jahan had built the Taj Mahal, one of the great wonders of the world, in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, whom he had loved very much. From a window in the Red Fort, Shah Jahan could look out across the Yamuna to the Taj Mahal.

Who knows what he would have done if Jahanara also had died before him? True, by that time he was no longer the Emperor, but he would perhaps have begged his most notorious son to do something very special for his all-giving daughter, Jahanara.

When Shah Jahan died, Jahanara greatly mourned the loss of her father. She now had full freedom to come out of her self-imposed prison-life and enjoy life as a member of the royal family. But Jahanara said, "How can I be happy when my brother is so cruel and undivine?" She felt that her life had no meaning without her beloved father. So she continued living in prison for her few remaining years on earth.

Jahanara's last wish was not to have a canopy over her grave. Instead, she wanted only grass to grow on top of her grave. She wanted a most humble funeral ceremony, just like that of an ordinary person. She said, "I have not lived the life of a princess for many years. I have tried to live a life of simplicity, humility and purity. So let my passing also be all simplicity, humility and purity."